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Spoilers for minor character moments in Horizon Zero Dawn: Frozen Wilds

Butch:

Warning you that I’m already very tired as Mrs. McP went to work very early. We will likely derail.

I did play, but fuck I can’t do anything right. I figured “I’ll just do some missing dudes quests. Week’s about to go all busy and stuff, don’t want to move the main quest along, it’s cool. Find dudes.”

So I went after the “hunters three” there, who I like a lot. Bickering over the name of the werak, I love these guys. Did the fight, which did illustrate the very, VERY key nature of overriding the fucking towers. At this point, I thought the quest would end, but NOOOOOO.

So then I had to go up to those pools in Yellowstone (I did find the gate for that. Interesting political commentary, that) and you told me there were dudes there, so I thought “Shit. There’s gonna be a settlement, and that means more quests, so NOOOOOOO. Don’t want that today.

So: “Where’s the other find dudes? Hmm. Far. But that hunting grounds is on the way, and Femmy said that there was interesting dialog there.”

So I fast traveled past Yellowstone, and I hiked up to the hunting grounds. You’re right! Cool dialog! The woman who felt that she had made great strides for women, then lost them! THAT’S some interesting bloggage and it’ll have to be what we do. Because I totally undermined my night right after it.

Because I said “You know? I haven’t really tried out this stormbringer. Maybe I’ll do a hunting ground thingy to practice.” So I did. And it was easy as pie. And I passed it, and that MOVED THE MAIN QUEST FORWARD. Now it’s all “Go to Song’s Whatever and confront Aratuk” and I don’t WANT to! I want to FIND DUDES!

The fuck. It’s a reverse MEA. That game, I was all “I’m gonna move the quest along!” and then did nothing but find dudes. Here, I TRIED to find dudes, and moved the quest along.

Can’t win.

But that huntress was pretty damn interesting. And even more so that she’s saying all that to a young girl.

Feminina:

No! No! Ignore the instructions to go confront what’s his face. He’ll be there later. I’ve been ignoring him for a while.

In a meeting, so more presently…

Butch:

Oh don’t worry. I’ll ignore it. Great thing about quests. They wait. Usually.

But what really steamed me is that once I did that, the quest markers for the other two went away. Now, the pigment lady, that’s cool, she can chill. I think they only threw that in for people who wanted a way out of all this without too much fighty fighty. But I kinda WANTED to take down the bandit camps! They were fun! They took thought! And now it’s gone.

But speaking of taking thought….

I knew there was something bugging me about the towers and I figured out what it was: Usually, when hunting, you have to figure things out. Chart paths, scan machines, think about where to put traps, angles of approach, where cover is, etc. This was fun. This made combat in this game far more interesting than in most other games. But these tower fights? It makes SUCH a difference overriding the tower, that the plan is ALWAYS “Get the fuck in there, override it, at which point you will have been seen, so just whack stuff.”

Far less thought. Far less fun.

So I like the towers in theory, but they have taken a great deal of the planning and the stalking out of it. Sigh.

Feminina:

That’s interesting, your experience with the towers. I only ever overrode I think two of them (and got in a big machine fight about it, as you say). The rest of them I decided to just hang back, lurking in the grass, and shoot at the glowy bit when it stuck out. You hit it three times, it wrecks the tower, the machines don’t even know where you are, and I’d just slink away afterwards. It was a bit more strategic, finding a place to lurk and aim from, staying out of sight, etc. (I’m putting it in the past tense because the other day I got a trophy that said “disabled all towers!”)

Try that if you’re tired of whacking things. As far as I could tell, it doesn’t really make any difference whether you disable them by shooting or overriding, except that overriding briefly knocks over the machines. But if you’re not trying to fight them, who cares?

You can still go to the bandit camp, dude! It’s still up there. Look for the icon on the map. Also, you can still find the pigment (I’m still tracking them all down), although it’s a lot easier if you buy the map.

I should pay attention to this meeting…more later! I do want to talk about the hunting ground lady!

Butch:

Ah, that makes sense. I was doing this in the context of the “Hunters three,” in which you had to actually kill all those machines by the towers. It was FAR easier with that tower overridden.

I kinda figure I’m never going to get that particular trophy. Unless I have to. I don’t want to. I didn’t override/destroy the tower by that first frostclaw there, and I can’t be bothered to go back and do it.

Bandit camp ahoy! I like those.

I have the pigment map! But not the others. I just can’t seem to find it in my heart to kill goats. Maybe if I find a goat named Kevin.

Feminina:

Yeah, I spent a while just shooting every goat I saw trying to find one with a skin. I did feel kind of bad. But I want that map!

OK, back in the office. Preparing smart thoughts about the hunting ground lady.

A couple of thoughts. First, she was just funny, and I liked her.

I loved the bit that went:
“Every tribe says they invented the Hunting Grounds, and the Carja stole it from them.”
“So who did invent it?”
“We did.”
“And the Carja stole it from you?”
“Yup.”

Such a dry, self-aware humor. And, tying in with what you mentioned earlier, it demonstrated her overall dry, self-aware take on those ancient Banuk traditions that we were talking about yesterday, which is a really great bit of complexity for that whole culture (and an important point to keep aware for us sensitive cultural relativists): not everyone is actually all that into the ancient traditions.

Some are, and yeah, we should respect that and not assume that our ways are automatically better than theirs just because this is how WE do things, but…some people find their own traditions confining, and want to change them in various ways, so we also shouldn’t automatically assume that everyone born into a certain culture necessarily wants it to stay the same forever, and that we are doing them a huge favor by respecting, say, that one group of elders’ point of view as THE official voice of that culture and ignoring this other group that would like to try something else.

The painter made the same point about how some people want change and some don’t, and I also thought that was a nice example of the game complicating its own world in a cool way. Certainly in our world not everyone, even within a given culture, agrees about how best to manage things, so why would everyone in this world?

And we don’t have any idea which path is ‘right’ (maybe neither, maybe they’re just different), although Aloy, being as we recently discussed young and not particularly reverent toward ancient tradition, is probably pretty sympathetic towards one of them.

But this is always the tug-of-war in society, isn’t it? Things change, older people lament what’s been lost since the good old days, younger people complain about how older people don’t understand what things are like now with the challenges of modern life, etc. With, often, legitimate concerns on both sides. We DO lose good things with change, even as we also get away from bad things.

Butch:

That was pretty awesome. But also dry humor from someone whose culture has both passed her by and discarded her. Remember fish breath dude? We get the sense that hunting ground folks are people that the main society wants to get rid of. This was a “Hey look, we have this…very honorable position….yeah, we’ll go with that…running this hunting ground way over there. You’re gonna love it.” And she knows that. She knows this is getting kicked to the curb in an “honorable” way.

Aloy, I think, probably liked this huntress like we did.

I also give the game credit that they did this with the Banuk. We talked earlier about how the weird mystical folks, in games, are usually “nice.” They’re also rather usually uniform. D&D was particularly notorious for this. “Sure, create any world you want, with whatever dynamics you want, but the manual says, in a rather perfunctory paragraph, that the clerics of whozaphat ALL wear red headdresses and revere cheese, muenster above all.” And that’s that. No argument. And we take it in stride, mostly because we, here in the real world, like to think that those “weirdos” must be doing it out of some collective self delusion. If we start giving them some dissent (“Hey, I like swiss cheese…and blue feathers…”), then we allow they can think and choose, and who on EARTH would choose THAT? Right? No one would….right? RIGHT?

Which makes us feel better. But it isn’t particularly realistic, and is really just a reflection of our own cultural relativism.

True that things change, but here, I think, another interesting, if depressing, twist was that the huntress’ lament was that they made some sort of progress that was undone. They were the first female werak, and then…BACK to the old ways. This wasn’t “The old ways were better,” it was “We changed the old ways and then they changed right back.” We don’t usually have the old codgers saying “Back in my day….” ending it with “it was just like now. Thank God that little dalliance with the new fangled way died out.”

Feminina:

Yeah! The hunting ground position IS an ‘honorable retirement where you go away and don’t bother us’ position, and this lady totally knows that. Although she also doesn’t seem to entirely mind, because you get the sense she’d just as soon be out here as back with the tribe arguing about why none of the great strides she and her peers made have left an impact. But still, there’s a definite sense that it stings, and there’s this really well done maturity and resignation and dark humor about the character.

It’s cool to see a fairly minor, older character with these kinds of layers. She’s not the cantakerous old lady shaking her fist at the kids on the lawn, but she’s also not the serene wise elder dispensing sage advice (her advice, “don’t get old” is singularly unhelpful). She’s just a person who’s seen a lot and done a lot and has some complaints and some regrets but is getting by as people do, more or less making the best of what she has.

Butch:

It’s just yet another thing this game gets so very, very right.

All this in a 15 dollar DLC. It’s just amazing.

Feminina:

They definitely put in the work to keep this right at the level of the main game in terms of characters, subplots, data points from the past, etc. There’s nothing about it that has felt like “oh, they just threw something together to suck a few more dollars out of people…”

So worth every penny of the $15. Although wasn’t it really $20 or something, and we got a PS+ discount? Regardless. It was worth $20 too.

Maybe at the end of this DLC we’ll get the button to pre-order the sequel, like we wanted last time! If so, I’ll click it twice, just to make sure.

Butch:

As will I.

Is it now safe to say that this is our favorite franchise? That this has displaced even DA on the OMGOMGOMG THERE’S NEWS ABOUT IT list? Not that we can’t have more than one thing on that list.

Feminina:

We can have many things. But yeah…I think right now, I’d be even more psyched to hear about this sequel than new DA.

The lovefest is strong.

Butch:

I do reserve the right to go completely batshit when CDPR finally unveils Cyberpunk.

But yes…I do think this has displaced DA.

Unless there’s a game where you can PLAY AS MORRIGAN!

Though would I like that? Can you romance yourself?

Feminina:

I don’t know if Morrigan would actually be into herself, you know? She seems like kind of a “I am a complete person in myself, if I seek outside company it’s because that company can provide something I don’t already have.” Different skill sets or what have you. She’s very practical, and I could see her finding it pointless to romance herself, because she already has everything she has to offer.

Butch:

Damn. Then I guess Horizon stays at the top.

Feminina:

Hey, you know, I could be wrong. We parted friends in DAO, but I can’t say I ever discussed the matter with her.

But to be safe, Horizon.